Create the Life You Want.

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A beautiful landscape beyond the wall - freedom and opportunity concept

You create the image and color on the canvas called your life. Are you creating the picture you want? Or does your canvas convey chaos and despair?

Indeed, sometimes we don’t like what we see in our lives. But who is responsible for the likeness reflecting back? Some would say outside forces, such as inadequate parents, poverty, addiction, rotten breaks, racism, homophobia, a disability, incest, and any number of other things.

No doubt, outside forces can and do influence our life canvas. But I invite you to consider that more often than not, we allow outside forces to color and define our lives.

You are the artists; God is your co-creator. Together all things are possible. But when we mistakenly believe that other people control our destiny, we end up feeling bitter and hopeless. In truth, we’re in partnership with a Higher Power, or whatever you choose to call it.

For years this was hard for me to accept. My life was rotten. I had a drug habit and an addition to alcohol, I was selling my body to support my dysfunctional lifestyle, and I was making bad choices that led to more bad choices. And I didn’t think it was my fault. I was not the artist who created the mess. I remember thinking, ‘If only I had a break, if only someone would give me a chance, my life would be different.’  Sadly, when a few kindly folks tried to give me breaks, I blew the opportunities.

How easy it is to believe we have no control over the events of our lives? How easy it is to believe our lives are preordained and that someone has control over the details? Holding on to that belief renders big payoff, because when things go wrong it’s not our fault. And when things go right, it was just God’s will. But never do we play a part, or so we think.

As you read this post, I invite you to consider a different perspective. You’re invited to first see whether you played a part in where you are today. And the best news you can give yourself is to say yes, because if you played even a small part, there is something you can do to change that canvas of your life.

Remember, you are the artist in your life.  So, what action can you take to create your drab canvas into a masterpiece?

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Act As If

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Starting today let’s practice acting as if.

Pensive woman day dreaming in parkWhy? Because “acting as if” is a powerful tool for successful living. It is one that when properly applied renders triumphant and bountiful results. The idea that we can believe one thing, yet take contrary action and get positive results, is remarkable. Think about it. How often have you given up on something simply because you didn’t believe you could have it or do it?

On the contrary, how often have you accomplished a goal because you were willing to do the work, even though deep in your heart you never believed you can do it? Does that mean we have no chance of doing well, simply because we don’t think we can? Some people will have us believe that that’s true. They suggest that in order to make it at anything, we absolutely must believe we can. To back up that theory there are countless authors, therapists, lecturers and others who tell us that confidence is a precursor to success. And without it, we won’t make it.

I must disagree.

If that were true, I and many others wouldn’t be where we are today.

I didn’t get through law school because I believed in myself. I wish I could say that I did. For sure, there were moment of feeling that “Yes, I can do this. Yes I’m making it happen.” But there were many more moments of feeling that “I can’t, it’s hard, and I want to give up.”

What I had, and continue to have, going for me is a willingness to do the work – even when I don’t believe I’ll make it to the finish line.

Sometimes we get caught up thinking we have to feel good each and every moment on the journey. That life has to be easy and uncomplicated or else it’s not worth living. How often do we hear it said that “life doesn’t have to be hard”? On one level that’s true depending on the choices we make. If we make safe and easy choices that that don’t stretch us or test our growth, then we may have easy lives. But if we’re doing anything that is new, different, or outside of our comfort zone, there will be days we’ll feel great and days when we’ll struggle just to get out of bed.

Acting as if is the key. A willingness to take contrary action enabled me to change my reality, simply became I moved my feet. Even today when I set out to get a certain result, I don’t always believe I’ll get what I want. There are no guarantees. My job is simply to do the work and act as if. The rest is up to my Higher Power.

Some of you might think acting as if is being phony because you’re doing something you don’t believe in. And perhaps you’re right. But how often do we fake it in our lives with no purposeful goal other than to impress someone? Why not “fake it until we make it” as we move ourselves closer to competing our goal?

Do the footwork and the mind will follow. It’s all in how we see it.

Join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

See Yourself Clearly. Mirror, Mirror….

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It’s an Estimable Act to See Yourself Clearly.

MirrorThe other day my friend call me upset because her brother called her controlling.  “Who does he think he is?” she said. “He has no right to say that that about me.”

“Is it true? Any you controlling?” I asked.

“I don’t think I am,” she said. “I’m just passionate about things.”

“Why did he call you controlling? What did he say you did?”

“I told him I didn’t like how he is raising his daughter.” 

“Is it possible he could have perceived your words as controlling?” I asked.

“I doubt it, but if he did, it was his fault for interpreting my words that way,” she said.

This could have been a scenario with you and a friend, you and a family member, or you and a co-worker. It’s any scenario where you are seen one way but you perceive yourself differently. Do you know who you are? Do you know how your behavior affects others? We go through life seeing ourselves as we want to be seen not always as we are.

Frequently that means seeing ourselves as the good guy, the wronged, the one taking the high road, the person who is misunderstood. Yet there are times when our attitude, our tone of voice, our body language, and the words we use turn us into the wrongdoer.

Examine Your Behavior.

Having the courage to continuously examine our behavior, our motives, and even our thoughts is an Esteemable Act.  And it’s difficult because were asked to see past our filters and defenses to the truth of who we are in the moment. Our filters protect us. By their very nature, they distort our vision. We tend to see only the good. Its important to acknowledge our assets, but unless we can balance our perception, we aren’t able to see our part in problems that occur.

We then become challenged to understand why people respond to us the way they do. For example, I had a bad habit of interrupting people when they were talking, I’d walk up and jump into an existing conversation without concern for people’s feelings. To me, that wasn’t rude or inconsiderate. It was just the way I was, and most of the time, I had no idea I was doing on. I was oblivious to my behavior and its impact on others until one day someone actually called my attention to what I did. It was a painful realization and one that made me more aware of my behavior.

Self-examination is life transforming, so why don’t more of us do it? We mistakenly believe that if there is need for improvement, we’re defective. So, we walk around thinking we’re prefect while acting imperfect and inflicting casualties along the way.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Self-Examination: Seeing Yourself More Clearly

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Blame. Self-Examination.

Self-Examination

Self-Examination. Self-Esteem.

As far back as I can remember everything bad that ever happened to me was always someone else’s fault. “It’s not my fault, I’m not to blame” was one of my favorite sayings.

However, self-examination requires that you go against your nature to do what you’re unaccustomed to doing – honestly assessing yourself.

Filters. Truth.

Self-examination can be difficult because you’re looking past your filters to the truth, and it is our filters that protect us, that shield us from real and perceived dangers. But filters, by their very nature, cloud your thinking and distort your vision, preventing you from seeing things as they really are.

Filters include moods, attitudes, and other people’s behavior. When you’re not feeling well, it’s easy to see yourself as someone who’s misunderstood and who should be given a break. While we all could be a little more tolerant of one another’s feelings, when moods and attitudes are used continually as an excuse for bad behavior, it doesn’t work. Everyone has a bad day or two, but to always be in a bad mood and expect people not to react is asking for a lot.

Real and Lasting Self-Esteem.

Then sometimes we use other people’s behavior as a reason to behave poorly ourselves, this justifying our actions. For example, “She talked about me to my boss, that’s why I sent a hurtful email about her to everyone on the company’s email list,” said Stella. While you may think you have a valid reason for acting a certain way in response to someone’s behavior, over the long haul ask yourself, “How does it make me feel?” Does your behavior bring you closer to or push you further away from real and lasting self-esteem? What could you do differently?

So if you find you are in a conflict with someone, take a moment and ask yourself, “Is there something I did or could have done to make the other person react the way he or she did?”  “Could my tone of voice, my body language, a look, or a word I chose to use have triggered the person in some way?” Because we don’t see ourselves as others do, it might be hard to assess this, but do the best you can. It’s a beginning.

To assist you on your journey, consider the following affirmations:

  • I am not afraid of knowing who I am.
  • I welcome the opportunity to know myself better.
  • I am open to knowing and loving all of me.
  • I am willing to step out of the darkness and into the light.
  • I am willing to see the part I play in my interactions with others.

Who do you think you are right now? How do you see yourself? Without giving it too much thought, write out your answers in a journal.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Walk Through Fear

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Fearless. Courage.

Fear. Courage.I’ve always been fearless, or so I thought. And as long as I had a drink or a drug in my hand, that was true. Chemicals gave me the courage to do the impossible, such a talk to people, feel my feelings, ask for what I needed, take what I wanted, be friendly and sociable, speak up in a group, or simply function in the big scary world.

However, when my chemical support was removed, my courage disappeared. I felt helpless, unprotected, and unable to cope. It’s amazing how easy it is to be strong when you’ve got drugs in your system. At other times, it was the power of a group that made me able to do the seemingly impossible. Sadly, I also did things in groups that I would never have done alone.

Courage is a powerful state of being, and when used for good, it is an empowering consciousness to behold. I used to think courage was an absence of fear. I held my chest out pompously and claimed to be afraid of nothing. Today I know courage is a willingness to admit I’m afraid and then take the action to get through the fear, without the aid of chemicals and without purposefully hurting anyone along the way.

Why is fear so powerful?

Because we deny its existence. We pretend we’re not afraid, even when we are. It’s the only emotion that convinces us that we don’t have the emotion. So the more we deny it, the more powerful it becomes.

Fear shows up in many ways.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, the Big Book, we read that fear reveals itself in one hundred different self-centered forms. So how do we recognize it? Here’s a short list of phrases we use at substations for the word fear:

  • I’m nervous.
  • I’m embarrassed.
  • I can’t do it.
  • It’s too hard.
  • I really didn’t want to do it anyway.
  • I was told I did not have to do it.

Regardless of what we call it, fear, by any other name, is still fear. So how do we walk through fear?

  • Acknowledge the fear.
  • Break the task into small pieces.
  • Feel the fear and do something away.
  • Use your faith. If you don’t have faith, find a friend who will encourage you to take action.

Today I invite you to walk through something you’re afraid to do.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.